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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

HR Automation: How to Leverage Technology to Improve Your Hiring Process

“Leveraging technology to enhance hiring is crucial in today’s fast-paced business world,” Summit Partner Jessica Willis says to kick off our conversation about HR automation. Why is it so critical? As she says, “Embracing HR automation streamlines operations, allowing teams to focus on relationships and strategic initiatives. It can also minimize errors, speed up hiring, enhance the candidate experience, and provide data for improvement.”

These are just some of the ways HR automation can help businesses navigate a difficult talent landscape. While automation can be a useful tool, however, that doesn’t mean that every HR process can—or should—be automated. If you’re considering introducing automation into your HR strategy, consider these insights from the Summit team on its best use.

HR automation in recruitment

There are many steps and tasks involved in recruitment that can take up a lot of time, and often the stages that take the longest aren’t the most important ones for recruitment teams to put their energy into. For example, says Toronto Recruitment Consultant Serena Milani, “Sorting through a large volume of resumes is a time-consuming task. Automated systems can quickly analyze resumes, identify relevant keywords, and shortlist candidates who meet the basic criteria, allowing human recruiters to focus on more nuanced assessments.”

The best processes to automate are things like initial screening that can be major time sinks and don’t enhance the connection with applicants. Recruitment Director Amanda Graham explains, “Providing a great candidate experience is more important than ever and ensuring you have the technology and systems to support those processes is key.”

That’s why she says having a strong applicant tracking system (ATS) is crucial in today’s recruitment climate. These systems allow employers to build talent pipelines and streamline their operations, giving them more time to focus on things like the candidate experience. When used correctly, an ATS can actually make the hiring process more personal and responsive because you can track and manage applicants across stages and ensure you’re maintaining frequent, open communication.

The data gathered by ATS programs can also help employers to make better, more informed hiring decisions that are free from the unconscious bias that human reviewers can bring to the process. Mariah Beahen, Recruitment Consultant in Summit’s Calgary office, says, “Predictive analytics for sourcing can enhance efficiency in recruitment processes and mitigate bias in job advertisements, which promotes diversity and inclusion.”

Jessica Willis adds, “Top tools like ATS’s manage internal candidate sourcing, screening, scheduling, and offer management. They’re also ideal in having proper notes on expectations and interests.”

There are other areas where automation can be a benefit, as well, Jessica says. “I have seen a few clients also have HR chatbots on their career pages which expedite candidate communication.”

That’s the key with recruitment automation: it’s best used in areas where it will enhance, rather than detract from, the experience on both sides. Using a chatbot, for example, lets applicants get faster answers to basic questions, at a stage of the process when they don’t necessarily expect to get hands-on attention from a human recruiter.

Automation in employee management

The same basic rules apply when you’re utilizing automation for other HR processes. Systems that are rife for automation are those primarily concerned with data, where technology can improve both accuracy and efficiency. This includes things like payroll, attendance and leave records, and benefits administration.

For example, says Melanie McQueen, “Automating payroll management reduces errors and ensures timely salary disbursement. Time and attendance tracking software improves accuracy in attendance records and simplifies leave management. Additionally, benefits enrollment can be automated, enhancing employee experience and reducing paperwork.”

Melanie goes on to say, “Employee onboarding and offboarding can also benefit from automation, ensuring consistent processes and reducing administrative burdens.” However, it’s always important to strike a balance, Mariah Beahen says, because “onboarding is a crucial time to build relationships with new hires so you should prioritize personal touch points over AI.”

It comes down to understanding which types of tasks can be automated without sacrificing relationships. In onboarding, for example, you can use technology for things like distributing, collecting, and filing new hire paperwork, letting your team focus on introducing the new hire to their team and workplace during the face-to-face onboarding. Utilizing automation in conjunction with human interaction enables you to reap the benefits of both approaches.

Keeping the human in HR

While HR automation has numerous benefits, these also come with a risk. Too much automation and technology, or using it for the wrong processes, can dehumanize the hiring and management of talent. A hiring process that feels automated to candidates can make them wary of joining your organization, giving the impression that your company treats employees in that same impersonal, “cog in a wheel” kind of way. Similarly, if your onboarding, training, and employee management processes are over-automated, this can contribute to a drop in engagement among your team.

Being selective with when and where you employ automation can help to prevent this. Jessica Willis suggests utilizing technology on processes that are data- and rule-based, or focused on conveying or collecting basic information. These include things like candidate screening, scheduling interviews, or initial conversations with applicants. On the other hand, she says, “Personalized stages like interviews need a human touch.

Even with stages of the process where automation can be utilized effectively, it’s important to use caution in your implementation of it. For example, Serena Milani notes, “While automated initial responses are efficient, building a personal connection with potential candidates is crucial. Relying solely on automation in this stage can make the process feel impersonal and hinder relationship building. Automation is fantastic for screening applicants and narrowing them down to a shortlist, but the recruiter needs to still maintain a human connection with the candidate to breed trust and a better understanding of their qualifications.”

In short, while automation can provide and analyze data, the final decision about hiring should always be based on human judgment. An AI can’t screen for factors like culture fit, team dynamics, or the potential for growth, all of which can be just as important for choosing the right employee as measurable qualities like experience and education.

Amanda Graham seconds this suggestion, saying, “It is still very important that the interpersonal aspect remains intact. When making the decision to join an organization, for instance, candidates want to gain an understanding of the organizational culture and values, which often shines through in face-to-face interactions with employees who already work there and meetings with the management team they will be reporting to.”

The same applies to automation used for employee management. As Melanie McQueen says, “Human touch remains essential for nuanced tasks like conflict resolution and employee development.” When deciding which types of automation to use, she says, “Select processes that align with your organization’s needs, always prioritizing a seamless employee experience.

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